SALT LAKE CITY — The NBA draft will be held Thursday night in Brooklyn and everybody has their own guesses of what will happen. While many experts have the same group of players being drafted in similar order, you never know what’s going to happen and how the actual draft will turn out.
A year ago at this time, 100 out of 100 experts would have told you Markelle Fultz would be a much better pick than Donovan Mitchell. Look how that one turned out. Hardly any mock drafts had Utah’s Kyle Kuzma going in the first round, but he ended up on the all-rookie team after being taken No. 27 by the Lakers and he outperformed fellow Lakers’ rookie Lonzo Ball, who went No. 2.
With all that in mind, here is one more opinion of what will happen Thursday night:
No. 1: PHOENIX: Deandre Ayton, 7-0, Arizona — The Suns can’t pass up a guy who played college ball just down the road in Tucson and who is as athletic and has as much upside as he does.
No. 2: SACRAMENTO: Mo Bamba, 7-1, Texas — Most experts have Bamba going a few slots later, but the Kings may want to roll the dice on a player who has similar dimensions to Rudy Gobert (7-1, 7-10 wingspan), but is more athletic.
No. 3: ATLANTA: Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke — He appears to be a safe pick, but the Hawks will hope he won’t turn out like another 6-11 player from Duke, Jahlil Okafor, who was picked No. 3 and never reached his potential in Philadelphia.
No. 4: MEMPHIS: Jaren Jackson Jr., 6-11, Michigan State — Known for his defense, he has a long wingspan, and if he can develop his offensive game, could be one of the top rookies in the league next year.
No. 5: DALLAS: Luka Doncic, 6-8, Slovenia — The Mavericks would be thrilled if the versatile 19-year-old, who was the youngest EuroLeague MVP in history, is available when they pick.
No. 6: ORLANDO: Wendell Carter, 6-10, Duke — He’s one of the better passing big men in the draft, and his 7-foot-4 wingspan is three inches more than his teammate Bagley.
No. 7: CHICAGO: Mikal Bridges, 6-7, Villanova — The NBA loves players like this, who are multi-dimensional and can play various positions.
No. 8: CLEVELAND: Trae Young, 6-1, Oklahoma — He trailed off after a red-hot start last season, but his shooting and passing ability could make him a star in the league someday.
No. 9: NEW YORK: Michael Porter, 6-10, Missouri — He is one of the more intriguing and unknown commodities in the 2018 draft. He played just three games this season in college, but prior to his injury-plagued season was considered a top-3 pick.
No. 10: PHILADELPHIA: Miles Bridges, 6-7, Michigan State — Called a “freakish athlete” by some, he can also play more than one position and has a bigger body (230 pounds) that gives him an advantage defensively.
No. 11: CHARLOTTE: Kevin Knox, 6-9, Kentucky — One of the youngest players in the draft, he could be “great” when he grows into his body according to Kentucky coach John Calipari.
No. 12: L.A. CLIPPERS: Robert Williams, 6-10, Texas A&M — With his big body, he’s been compared to another Clipper, DeAndre Jordan, who may not be around L.A. a lot longer.
No. 13: L.A. CLIPPERS: Collin Sexton, 6-3, Alabama — Maybe he’ll be the next Donovan Mitchell, who was also picked at No. 13 and has a wingspan eight inches taller than his height.
No. 14: DENVER: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, 6-6, Kentucky — The Nuggets still haven’t gotten over last year’s draft-day blunder in trading away the No. 13 pick to the Jazz. Gilgeous-Alexander has similar numbers to Mitchell coming out of college and is three inches taller, but don’t expect him to be as good.
No. 15: WASHINGTON: Zhaire Smith, 6-4, Texas Tech – Known for his defense and athleticism he can be a solid complement to John Wall and Bradley Beal.
No. 16: PHOENIX: Aaron Holiday, 6-1, UCLA — After taking Ayton with the No. 1 pick, the Suns could dip into the Pac-12 for a point guard they need in Holiday, who was a 42.3 percent 3-point shooter last year.
No. 17: MILWAUKEE: Lonnie Walker IV, 6-4, Miami — Still another player with a long wingspan, who has shot up the draft charts over the past month.
No. 18: SAN ANTONIO: Grayson Allen, 6-4, Duke — He’s not well-liked by many, but the Spurs don’t worry about that stuff and will be happy to get a hard-nosed player with a lot of skills.
No. 19: ATLANTA: Khyri Thomas, 6-3, Creighton — After taking a big man earlier, the Hawks can use a guard and find one with similar dimensions to Donovan Mitchell in height and wingspan.
No. 20: MINNESOTA: Troy Brown, 6-7, Oregon — He averaged just 11 points and shot 29 percent from 3-point range, but is one of those mid-sized players who can play a variety of positions.
No. 21: UTAH: Donte DiVincenzo, 6-5, Villanova — The Jazz like winners and get one in a guy who was the MVP of the Final Four for the national champions and can shoot the ball (40.1 percent from three).
No. 22: CHICAGO: Kevin Huerter, 6-7, Maryland — If the Jazz don’t go for DiVincenzo, they could very well take Huerter, an athletic player with good shooting range who has “great character,” according to a Maryland assistant.
No. 23: INDIANA: Jerome Robinson, 6-7, Boston College — He has been moving up draft boards for the past month and could go even higher.
No. 24: PORTLAND: Keita Bates-Diop, 6-8, Ohio State — He’s one of the older players in the draft at 22, so should be able to play right away for a team that needs some help inside.
No. 25: L.A. LAKERS: De’Anthony Melton, 6-4, USC — He didn’t play last season because of an NCAA investigation, but the Lakers could take a gamble on the hometown prospect.
No. 26: PHILADELPHIA: Chandler Hutchison, 6-7, Boise State — He played four years for Boise, so should come into the league ready to play.
No. 27: BOSTON: Dzanan Musa, 6-9, Bosnia — With all the talent the Celtics have on their roster, they can take a chance on an 18-year-old foreign player who could blossom.8 comments on this story
No. 28: GOLDEN STATE: Moritz Wagner, 6-11, Michigan — The Warriors don’t really use big men much since Andrew Bogut left, but they could use another big body, especially one that can shoot outside.
No. 29: BROOKLYN: Mitchell Robinson, 7-0, Western Kentucky — He actually didn’t play in college last year, but was a 5-star McDonald’s All-American with a ton of potential.
No. 30: ATLANTA: Jarred Vanderbilt, 6-8, Kentucky — With two other first-rounders, Hawks could look to trade this pick, but if not, they could take a flier on a rebounding forward with potential.